Impatient for stats

A long time ago, NS2 had an awesome project called NS2Stats that gathered round stats for the servers running this mod, you could go on their website and look at the stats for the rounds you had played. One of those stats was accuracy. In the competitive scene, this has always been a number every player has obsessed with, of course, since otherwise they wouldn’t be competing.

I remember playing and wondering during certain periods of the game what my final accuracy would be, especially if I was having a good round. So because I was impatient and wanted that data before the round ended, I thought about incorporating something like that to my mod, at the time still called Custom HUD.

The first iteration was fully client-based, so all the information was from what the client believed it hit, instead of what the server was seeing, but it was still good enough for the impatients like me at the time. When you died, you’d get a message in console like this:

Client-side stats

Because I was hooking into the damage function, and because of the way it works, some of the “weapons” weren’t being tracked, basically, any melee weapons wouldn’t count misses towards the stats, so most aliens would get 100% accuracy all the time. I wanted to address this, so while fixing this issue, I went for an extra step, the server-side.

Read More

Mapping and the search for feedback

Mapping has been a focus of mine for a very long time, it was during this period that I found out how valuable it was to seek feedback before exposing something to a wide audience. When I was mapping for NS1, and always on my own non-official maps, I wasn’t exposed to a big audience, only other fellow mappers, so the only feedback I’d receive usually was about visuals, never gameplay. This changed when I led the Bast remake team and it was finally complete. When it was released and everyone could play it, feedback poured in, this created a new problem: how can I tell what is a good or a bad idea? I certainly didn’t play much at the time, and I wasn’t into competitive play.

The first version of the Bast remake did ok, considering it was purely a remake, but since the map was back and could be updated, there was an expectation of long standing issues being fixed. Some of the people in that remake team suggested changes, the problem is, when we did them, everyone hated them. This was a terrible experience as there was a lot of negative feedback that I was never able to turn into a positive opinion through subsequent updates. It was a very frustrating experience.

Fast forward to NS2, when psyk0man left, Summit didn’t have anyone in charge of updating it, FMPONE took charge of it for a few builds, but I eventually offered to do it instead to let him focus on recreating Veil. The experience I had with Bast in NS1 made me very careful when I was put in charge of the Summit updating. I was very aware of how popular the map was (and especially in the competitive community), so I tried to ask as many people as possible when doing changes because I was terrified of “ruining” another map.

Read More

Modding origins – The spawns issue

A long, long time ago, I was writing for a (now defunct) spanish Half-Life & mods news site. One of the people in that community, blueman, pointed me towards a new mod that looked very interesting, as it was mixing RTS and FPS elements, that mod was Natural Selection.

At the time, I was just starting mapping and I had done a small and not very good looking Counter-Strike level, as I was still learning. So since this unreleased mod offered a small pre-release version for mappers to get started with all the textures, I jumped straight into it. The mapping forums were very active and some very nice looking maps were being shown there.

The kind of expectations that this mapping community had, pushed me to get better and better at mapping, and, after some time, I ended up contributing in official capacity for the mod in the form of the Bast remake and Sava. It was during this period that I learned to look more into negative feedback to see what I could improve. This would later apply to my Natural Selection 2 modding.

When Natural Selection 2 got announced, I naturally got excited about it. The curious thing about it was that the game logic was using lua, and any player could take a look at it and modify it. I had learned how to program as part of my studies, and it had been useful at work for doing some very small tools, but I never considered doing any game programming.

I had been part of the playtesting team since the very beginning, and since the game was in a sort of early access model, you could play the game as it was being developed.

People’s expectations didn’t line up with what the developer had in mind, so that prompted a number of people to stop playing out of frustration during the alpha and beta periods.

Read More